During the first few weeks of lockdown, it felt like all we had was time. Time to spend finally reading that untouched stack of books, time to try new recipes and, most importantly, time to get back into a healthy routine consisting of more exercise, less alcohol and a fridge that’d make mum proud.
But as the weeks went on, the at-home workout videos that we’d been avidly bookmarking on Instagram started to look less appealing and the motivation to optimise every hour waned. Cooking Ottolenghi recipes morphed into baking banana bread and a delivery of pet nat wine became more common than that of the local health food store.
Though many of us are silently struggling to continue to self-motivate with yoga mats on our living room floor – gyms are still closed in London, where I’m writing this from, and we’re now battling the pitch black and subzero temperatures for any outdoor activity before 8am – the feeling that we should’ve all come out of lockdown with pandemic glow-ups still persists.
Thankfully, there’s Lena Dunham. The director, writer and actress posted a lengthy message on Instagram yesterday addressing the stress and added thoughts she’s had about weight loss and her body since the pandemic began.
“Oh hey, just self-isolating with my pod, AKA my pot belly and my sunglasses,” she began the post, alongside a photo of herself sitting with a bikini on. “You know I’ve been thinking a lot about my pot belly in quarantine – especially as I notice an unusual amount of articles with titles like ‘How I Lost The Weight’ and ‘Diet Is Everything’. Are there more of them or do I just have more time to notice?”
Dunham went on to say that pressures she previously felt able to shrug off surrounding weight and body image are hitting a little differently right now. “Somehow, headlines that used to roll off my flesh rolls sting in a new way – not because I think that’s the body I’m meant to have, but because it feels like it’s adding yet another item to the epic to-do list we are all creating for ourselves in COVID – you know the one: ‘Now that I can’t be in the world, maybe I’ll finally… take up karate… build my own furniture… grow geraniums…’.”
“For most people, pandemic life has not proven to be a break from the world or themselves. And so the list grows, the items remain unchecked, and the suggestion of a revamped clean eating plan in my newsfeed somehow feels like a personal assault,” she continued. “Growing up chubby, fat, thicc, whatever you wanna call it, I always felt my body was a sign that read ‘I’m lazy and I have done less’.”
“Over the years, as my body guided me through my career and illness and disability, I started to appreciate what it was capable of,” Dunham wrote, referencing her endometriosis diagnosis and subsequent hysterectomy. “But somehow, this pandemic time has brought back some of those old feelings of self-loathing and I think it all comes back to that damned to-do list, the one that started when we went into lockdown.”
“Should I be revamping my fridge with veggies and showing off before/after pics, emerging from quarantine with a revenge body? And why, after all these years spent fostering self love, do I still feel like weight loss is an item for my to-do [list]? When I could be adding ‘learn Spanish?’ or ‘fall in love with a firefighter?’.”
Dunham finished her post by asking her following of 2.1 million to reflect on their own relationship with their bodies during lockdown: “I’m so curious – what has this period brought up for you as you’ve sat with the body you were given, no matter where self isolation has taken it? Please share with me in the comments – I’ll be reading faithfully from right here in this bikini top.”